Have you ever thought of what people would say about you after you died? Would you be remembered for the good things or the bad things that you did when alive? I imagine your judgement would depend upon those things that most stand out in their minds, good or bad.
In today’s Gospel (feast of Christ the King), the idea is carried on that the king was the ultimate judge. Since we are at the end of the liturgical year, the focus of the reading tends to look at the “end times,” and judgement is part of the “end time” configuration. The Gospel is about the final judgement.
Jesus will judge all peoples, and the criteria are based on how these people treated others, especially the poor, marginal, suffering, and those who were considered the least of society’s segments. What is especially curious about today’s Gospel is that the final judgement is based on the deeper motivation of how the marginal are treated. This motivation is founded on two biblical presuppositions. First, all people are created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26). Second, treatment of the marginal person is the same as treatment of Jesus.
Given that first presupposition, those who treated the marginally fairly will be judged worthily. Those who treated the marginally unfairly will be judged unworthily. Realization of this suggests to us what today’s Gospel means. Our treatment of others, particularly the marginal, should not be founded on a quid pro quo basis, but, rather, on the basis of not seeking gratitude.
Rather than our treatment of others being a “Scratch my back and I will scratch yours” gesture, it should be like that of Yhwh treating Israel, “…I will love them freely….” that is, without conditions (Hosea 14:4). This will be a true test of our motivation, and whether our judgement is well deserved or not. This is what Jesus will look for. Long live the king!